Breaking out of the career rut: 5 things you can do to make the transition easier
If you are feeling stuck in your career, you are not alone as the majority of workers feel at a dead end when it comes to their career and their future job prospects.
In a survey by American multinational technology group Oracle, researchers found that more than 75% of employees surveyed feel stuck both personally and professionally.
Challenges faced in the early months of the pandemic saw millions quit their jobs in droves in what later became known as The Great Resignation. Fast forward a few years and we see a new workplace trend—quiet quitting—that has many employers unsure if employees are dissatisfied with their jobs or maybe they’ve hit a wall in their career path.
Two separate studies found that around 20% of American workers have already changed career paths, while a secondary survey found that 46% of respondents are considering a career change in the coming year.
Work-related challenges, ranging from financial well-being to leadership, career development and work-life balance, all contribute to the growing list of reasons employees feel they are entering or are already in a career .
In a tight job market, employers struggle to attract and retain staff as employees constantly leave jobs in hopes of finding a suitable job that offers them the perks and benefits they have been craving.
While these opportunities are there, albeit in the most difficult places, they do not solve the question of whether employees who feel stuck – personally or professionally – can successfully make a career change.
Coping with the challenges that come with changing career paths can be stressful, especially when you feel like you’ve gotten into a career rut. While the transition takes time to get used to, it’s important to consider a few things that can help make the process feel more comfortable and exciting at the same time.
Let’s jump in.
Consider your wants vs your needs
A good starting point is to consider your professional “wants” and your professional “needs”. Start thinking about the daily pain points you are currently experiencing in your job or career and start writing them down. Being able to identify the cause of why you’re feeling stuck or stuck in a routine can help clear the air.
The “wishes” consideration usually includes the things you would like to see change in the near future. It could be things like a raise, taking on more responsibility, or even leading team projects.
On the other hand, when you look at your “needs,” these are things that require immediate attention and, in some cases, can be viewed as non-negotiable for your career. Needs typically include things like receiving a previously promised promotion or a better work-life balance.
See how your job needs are being met and if your employer is willing to talk through some of the pain points to help you grow in your current role and career.
Examine your career values
There’s a big difference between being stuck in a job and being stuck in a career, and distinguishing between the two starts with examining your professional values.
As you begin the transition process, consider how your passion for something can lead you to a suitable career. There are various things that we value in life and this can directly impact our career and how successful it turns out to be.
For example, let’s say you enjoy working with people and finding solutions to their problems. Have you perhaps thought about starting a business, becoming a property manager, offering consultancy or becoming an affiliate marketer? Perhaps you enjoy delivering actionable results that you can see and experience first-hand. Perhaps you are more creative and have more artistic values, how can this coincide with the possibility of a whole new career?
Jot down a few ideas and take the time to think about all the things in your personal life that you consider valuable. That way, you can start looking in the direction you want to move in before making a final decision about a career change.
Connect with connected professionals
Once you are aware of your professional needs and have taken the time to examine your values, it is time to talk and network with like-minded professionals.
The best way to do this is to use your social network and find out which people either work in a similar field or have expertise in the desired career path.
When you start talking to other people about your potential change, you’ll get better insight and what to expect. Additionally, talking to professionals in the field can help you learn the pros and cons that you may not have considered before.
If you don’t necessarily have or know someone to talk to, consider attending informational sessions or attending a workshop that can help uncover the inner workings of a seemingly unfamiliar world.
It’s important to also be open-minded about networking and open to the idea of being challenged or needing to change the way you think about career aspects. It’s best to test the water before diving head first.
Create a strategy
As you begin to gain more insight into the possibility of a new career, start creating a strategy or game plan to follow. Be realistic about your goals and how you will achieve them. Your strategy should focus on what you want to do and how you will do it.
Suppose you want to change your career from a senior manager to a pastry chef. Consider the type of qualifications you may need to perform a pastry chef’s duties and how long it will take you to hone those skills. More than that, where can you learn these new skills and what do you need to enroll? All of these and other questions should be part of the goal that helps build the strategy.
To develop your strategy, you need to think about the direction you want to go in and choose something that excites you. Once you know what that is or could be, start by laying the groundwork for achieving that goal by assessing your skills, networking with other professionals, increasing your knowledge, and researching potential job roles.
Move and reflect
Thinking about a career change is one thing, but doing it is quite another. Although the transition has slowly begun — the day you felt stuck — now is the time to take the plunge and start aligning your needs and values with the career path that excites you.
In order for you to represent yourself, you must start doing instead of thinking and planning. While there’s no standard time frame by which you must complete the process, it’s best not to be hard on yourself at first. Take your step and reflect on it later to see if it was the right decision.
If you feel like you are moving in a straight line, you are not growing and you are not finding viable ways to extricate yourself from the situation. It seems a bit scary at first to be flung around like this, but through these actions you will be able to reflect and draw a conclusion.
Constant theorizing or planning won’t get you the change you want unless you start with it or take that leap.
While we once thoroughly enjoyed the pace and excitement of our current career, there will come a time when the sense of euphoria will wear off and the harsh realities of your career will hit you out of the blue.
Changing jobs is one thing, but a career change completely changes who you used to be and reevaluates the things you once found interesting. It’s a confusing time, but instead of worrying about whether or not you will succeed, you will only feel more anxious, causing you to completely disengage from the idea.
Instead of seeing it as a career change, see it more as a change of scenery, closing a chapter in your life and starting something completely new—again.
Written by Jacob Wolinsky.
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